List of wartime cross-dressers

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Hannah Snell (1723–1792) was a British woman who disguised herself as a man and became a soldier

Many people have engaged in cross-dressing during wartime under various circumstances and for various motives. This has been especially true of women, whether while serving as a soldier in otherwise all-male armies, while protecting themselves or disguising their identity in dangerous circumstances, or for other purposes.

Conversely, men would dress as women to avoid being drafted, the mythological precedent for this being Achilles hiding at the court of Lycomedes dressed as a girl to avoid participation in the Trojan War.



  • Epipole of Carystus was a Greek woman described by Chennos as having joined the Greek army during the Trojan War.
  • Achilles was a Greek hero in the Trojan War. After hearing from an Oracle that her son would die in battle, his mother, Thetis, hid him in woman's clothing to prevent him from being taken to war.

Early Middle Ages[edit]

  • Hua Mulan was, according to a famous Chinese poem, a woman who joined the Chinese army in her father's stead.

Fourteenth century[edit]

  • Joanna of Flanders (c. 1295–1374) led the Montfortist faction in Brittany in the 1340s after the capture of her husband left her as the titular head of the family. She wore male dress at engagements such as the siege of Hennebont.

Fifteenth century[edit]

Joan of Arc enters Orléans (painting by J.J. Sherer, 1887)
  • Onorata Rodiani (1403–1452) was an Italian mercenary who served as a cavalry soldier, disguised in male clothing and with a male name, under a condottieri (freelance commander) named Oldrado Lampugnano beginning in 1423.
  • Jacqueline of Wittelsbach, Countess of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland (1401–1436) led the Hoek faction (the aristocratic faction) in Holland. Jacqueline and one of her servants disguised themselves as soldiers to escape confinement in Ghent.[1]
  • Joan of Arc (1412–1431) is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War. After being captured by her enemies, she was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old. She journeyed through hostile Burgundian territory disguised as a male soldier.

Sixteenth century[edit]

Seventeenth century[edit]

Eighteenth century[edit]

Nineteenth century[edit]

Twentieth century[edit]

As a major plot device in fiction[edit]

  • In J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings, Éowyn, the White Lady of Rohan, pretends to be a man and slips off to combat the forces of Mordor.
  • In All the Queen's Men, a 2001 comedy set during WWII, cross-dressing is a central plot device.
  • Terry Pratchett's novel Monstrous Regiment is a satirical look at the phenomenon.
  • I Was a Male War Bride is a comedy where the male French officer, played by Cary Grant, must dress like a woman to return as a war bride of his American military wife.
  • One of the running gags of the TV series M*A*S*H is Klinger's attempts to get discharged from military service by crossdressing.
  • In the Disney film Mulan, which is based on the story of Hua Mulan, Mulan dresses as a male to save her father from being drafted.
  • In Tamora Pierce's The Song of the Lioness quartet of books, Alanna of Trebond disguises herself as a boy to train to become a royal knight, a position only given to noble-born boys.
  • Genesis Climber Mospeada was perhaps the first anime series to feature a regular crossdresser, Yellow Belmont, amongst the main protagonists.
  • H. E. Bates's novel The Triple Echo is about a World War II army deserter who cross-dresses to avoid arrest. This was made into a film in 1972.
  • Mary "Jacky" Faber does this as the titular heroine of the Bloody Jack series of novels, fighting in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, a steampunk novel in which Deryn "Dylan" Sharp disguises herself so she can join the Royal Air Service.
  • In the manga and subsequent television series The Rose of Versailles, Lady Oscar François de Jarjayes acts as the head of the Versailles royal guards and the personal bodyguard of Princess, later Queen, Marie Antoinette during the years leading up to the French Revolution. What is unique about her cross-dressing is that, while Oscar wears men's clothing full-time and conducts herself as a man, she is open about being female.
  • The Shadow Campaigns novel series by Django Wexler has a female main character rise through the ranks of an army while disguised as a man.


  1. ^ Vaughan, Richard. Philip the Good. pp. 34–49. 
  2. ^ Davies, Christian (1740). The life and adventures of Mrs. Christian Davies, commonly called Mother Ross. London. 
  3. ^ Dall, Wells Healey Caroline Wells Healey; Dall, Caroline. The College, the Market, and the Court. Applewood Books. ISBN 9781429043441. 
  4. ^ "Charles Edward Stewart: The Young Pretender". The Scotsman. UK. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Hispanics in the Military". Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  6. ^ "The Hispanic Experience - Contributions to America's Defense". Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  7. ^ "Kvinnorna som klippte håret, tog på sig manskläder och tog värvning", Studio Ett , Sveriges Radio, 7 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  8. ^ Hirschfeld, Magnus (1930). The Sexual History Of The World War (revised edition 1946). Cadillac Publishing. Page 100.
  9. ^ Jones, David E. (2000). Women Warriors: A History. Washington D.C.: Brassey's. p. 134 ISBN 1-57488-206-6
  10. ^ Salmonson, Jessica Amanda (1991). The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Paragon House. Page 236. ISBN 1-55778-420-5
  11. ^ Liepman, Ruth (1997). Maybe Luck Isn't Just Chance. Northwestern UP. p. 66. ISBN 9780810112957. 
  12. ^ "Profile: A trusted leader". January 27, 2000. Retrieved 2008-06-12.